10 Crazy Nigerian Myths - Part 1

Nigerian folklore is a distinct kind of magic, get charmed...

I hail from Nigeria and the magic in Nigeria is something that goes deeper than what the eyes can see...it's a kind of magic you can feel. My hope is that with my content here on Vocal, I will be able to give you lot a little dose of that Nigerian magic ever so frequently. So bookmark my page, look out for my content, and by all means, say hello! 

Without further ado, numbers 10 through 6 of my "10 Crazy Nigerian Myths" list. 

This is a list of 10 folktales that are very rampant in Nigeria. If you're from Nigeria, then these are probably very very familiar to you. However, if you are not, then heeerreee we goooo.

#10. The Tattoo Candy

Glossary:
Sweets - How we refer to candy in Nigeria.
Naira - the Nigerian currency. Written as N. eg. N20 means 20 naira.
Anointing oil - Think holy water.

Legend has it that one day, a little boy in Primary school had N20 and decided to buy sweets for himself.

When he got to the school's shop, he looked around at all the sweets they had and decided to pick a sweet which had temporary/fake tattoo stickers inside.

When the little boy got home, he opened up the sweet and begun to lick it. Just as he was about to put the tattoo sticker on his hand, his mother stopped him and cautioned him to never put tattoos, fake or real, on his body.

As legend has it, the little boy didn't understand why his mother was against the tattoo sticker and so later that night, he neglected the warnings of his mother and put the tattoo sticker on his arm.

Happy with his decision and how the green snake tattoo looked on his arm, the little boy danced happily, had fun with his new tattoo, and then went to bed.

Now as the little boy slept, he dreamt of a green snake slowing wrapping around his body trying to kill him. Quickly, he woke up in shock...only to meet a terrifying reality.

The snake on his arm had come to life and was wrapping itself around the little boy, trying to squeeze him to death.

The little boy screamed and screamed and suddenly his mother burst into the room, awoken by the sounds of her screaming son, to see the gruesome sight.

The mother quickly grabbed a broom and begun to hit the snake but the snake wasn't dying.

The distraught mother who did not know what else to do turned to the only thing she could think of: the anointing oil in her room.

Legend has it that she sprinkled some of the anointing oil on the broom, blessed the broom, and went ahead to flog the snake once again.

Upon flogging the snake with the anointed broom this time around, the snake slowly but surely died and as the snake varnished, so also did the snake tattoo varnish from the little boy's skin.

Since that day, the little boy never ever bought any sweet which had tattoos inside and warned his friends against it as well.

#9. Oroma, The Headless Girl Who Braids Her Own Hair

According to Nigerian legend, there once lived a girl named Oroma who was undoubtedly the most beautiful girl in a certain kingdom and was most popular for always having the best hairstyles, that happened to change on a daily basis.

All the men loved Oroma, and all the girls envied her because her beauty was unmatched and her hair was simply divine.

Out of curiosity, many people constantly asked Oroma where she made her beautiful hairstyles, but every time she was asked, Oromo refused to answer.

And so, legend has it that one night while everybody in the community was deep asleep, 2 inquisitive girls followed Oroma home to see who or how she made her hair so beautiful all the time.

As the 2 young girls peaked through the corner of the mud house that Oroma lived in, they were shocked to see a ghastly and supernatural sight.

A headless Oroma sat down on the floor with her own head in her hand and legend has it that a hundred supernatural hands were hard at work pulling and stroking, combing and pressing Oroma's hair into shape rapidly.

The two girls immediately ran and began screaming to bring what they had just seen to the attention of the other towns' people. As the girls let the towns' people know what had happened, the towns people obviously distressed all set out to hunt down Oroma.

However, when the towns' people got to Oroma's home, she was nowhere to be found. They searched and searched, but there was no sight of Oroma: it is as if Oroma had disappeared into thin air.

Until this day, Oroma has not been found, and if you see any beautiful girl on the street rocking hair that looks supernaturally good, you may just be looking right into the eyes of Oroma.

#8. Bush Babies

You're in bed at night trying to fall asleep and all of a sudden you hear the sound of a baby crying.

Concerned, you get up and begin following the cry of the baby trying to discover where the mysterious sound is coming from.

Slowly but surely you go deeper and deeper into a strange terrain (eg. a bush, a forest) yet you are still compelled to find the source of this cry.

You move and you move until finally you discover the crying baby in the middle of the bush faced down crying.

You reach out to carry the crying baby, but then as you're hand approaches closer to the baby's body, the baby turns around.

Red Eyes, Razor-sharp Needle Like Teeth, and a strange deformed face stare at you and quickly lounge at you.

You are never ever seen again. 

#7. Mami Wata

Probably the most popular Nigerian legend, mami watas are everything contrary to what is believed of mermaids as depicted in "The Little Mermaid" or "Aquamarine"; in fact, mami watas are actually quite vicious.

According to legend, these creatures are extremely beautiful and have the power to lure any man into their grasp.

The beautiful creatures (who also have legs and can walk among men) come to land, seduce men, and then lure them back to the river never to return again.

While this is the case, some other mami wata spirits (as they are indeed spirits not human beings) prefer to lure sailors, and men at sea into their seductive grasp before viciously taking hold of them and never returning them to land.

Don't be deceived, the little mermaid only exists in fairy tales. In the real world, if a beautiful woman you're just meeting for the first time invites you to the beach/river on the first date, steer clear as Nigerian legend implies that you are most probably talking to a mami wata.

If you're interested and want to know more about these mami wata creatures, they have their own Wikipedia page!

#6. Night Whistling

According to Nigerian legend, whistling at night is an invitation for the spirits to come knocking. Numerous legends have different accounts of people who have whistled, and have in turn been met by snakes, occult members, evil spirits, or even found themselves in strange places.

An interesting legend I heard about "whistling at night" growing up goes like this:

One night, a wicked step-mother sent her step-daughter to go and fetch water in the deep hours of the night.

Being hopeless and terrified, the step-daughter who I'll call Adaku had no option but to leave her house.

As legend goes, Adaku was walking deeper and deeper into the village on her way into the stream and suddenly began whistling, perhaps mindlessly.

Legend has it that as Adaku whistled, she begun hearing strange noises in the bushes which stopped every time she stopped whistling. Adaku being curious continued to whistle, and the noises in the bushes continued to grow.

Out of nowhere, legend has it that snakes, demons, evil apparitions, and dead corpses surrounded Adaku in a flash, and began whistling and hissing at her.

The story ends with Adaku never making it to the stream, and never returning home. Legend has it that somewhere in the bushes, Adaku still whistles with the demons and evil spirits which captured her, waiting to get their next whistling prey. 

Now, I know that these are really different types of stories for non-Nigerian readers and must sound like some deeep horse sh**, but hey! at least now you're aware of some common Nigerian myths that you can share with your friends and family. At the least, I hope you've enjoyed reading these stories and I'll hopefully see you in my next post where I take you through numbers 5 through 1.

Till then, see you around!!!!

Jide Okonjo
Jide Okonjo

Nigerian boy telling Nigerian tales. If Vocal is a land for different voices, then let me be a voice for the Nigerian story. 

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10 Crazy Nigerian Myths - Part 1